Eleven new community fire stations for Staffordshire have been given the official go-ahead.
The signing – known as financial closure – took place in London late last night and was attended by representatives of Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service and the consortium delivering the scheme.
Funding of £45 million has been made available from the Government’s Private Finance Initiative (PFI) scheme. The project is the second phase of an innovative programme to provide state-of-the-art fire stations across Staffordshire which are also community-focused with facilities to benefit local people.
Phase one of the scheme received £45m in funding and saw three additional stations developed and seven stations replaced between October 2009 and September 2011.
Now phase two will see a further 10 fire stations rebuilt on their current sites plus a brand new station at Loggerheads to replace a 45-year-old station at Ashley.
The phase two contractor is blue3 consortium, formed through a partnership between Kier and Calderpeel. The consortium is responsible for the design, construction and ongoing maintenance of the buildings.
Chief Fire Officer/Chief Executive Peter Dartford, said: "Here in Staffordshire we are at the forefront of the UK’s Fire and Rescue Service. We are developing fire stations that are purpose-designed for our role in the 21st century as a proactive fire prevention service and which are also at the heart of their community, providing modern facilities for local people, local groups and other local services to use and enjoy.
"Once this massive undertaking is complete – in 2016 - Staffordshire will have rebuilt a total of 17 fire stations, created three brand new stations in areas of need and one station in a new location, and refurbished a further six stations."
Chairman of the Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Authority, Cllr Len Bloomer, said: “The successful signing off of the second phase of the PFI initiative is tremendous news and demonstrates that we are wholeheartedly committed to investing in the future of Staffordshire and its residents.
"Everyone involved has devoted a great deal of time and effort into getting this major project to this stage and now that the contract is signed, work will progress quickly. Three of the rebuilds get underway next month and the first is due to be completed in the summer of 2014."
Nigel Turner, Managing Director of Kier Property, commented: "Kier, as part of the blue3 consortium is delighted to have reached financial close on this exciting project for the Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service. These 11 new state-of-the-art fire stations will provide Staffordshire with an invaluable service, as well as being a fantastic community asset for many years to come.
"Kier has a strong track record of delivering similar projects in the emergency ‘blue light’ sector and looks forward to working closely with the client to deliver a continuously successful service over the next 25 years."
Chase Terrace, built in the late 60s, is the first station to be rebuilt in phase two, with work due to start on July 15 and scheduled for completion in late summer 2014.
Stations at Longton, Kinver, Rugeley and Stone will follow in 2013, while Codsall, Loggerheads, Penkridge, Leek, Burton-on-Trent and Lichfield all come on stream in 2014. The last station – Lichfield – should be completed by late spring 2016.
The new stations will be equipped with hi-tech operational facilities and have space for more community safety activities such as Student Firefighter courses. All of the new stations also incorporate dedicated rooms and amenities for the benefit of community groups, while stations crewed round the clock will have fitness equipment that can be used by supervised groups.
Community stations opened in phase one are providing a meeting place for more than 200 different groups, charities and public sector organisations across the country ranging from Staffordshire Police, the NHS, Citizens Advice Bureau and housing associations to music for the Turkish community, creative writing and gardening.